As was foretold, we've added advertisements to the forums! If you have questions, or if you encounter any bugs, please visit this thread: https://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/240191/forum-advertisement-faq-and-reports-thread/

Pragmatism Not Idealism

flamebroiledchickenflamebroiledchicken Registered User regular
edited May 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
concerned but powerless
an empowered and informed member of society
pragmatism not idealism


So, I was at a party last night and one of the coffee table books was Recipes for Disaster: An Anarchist Cookbook, so I started flipping though it just for shits and giggles. I'm no anarchist, but one of the things that struck me about the book was the plucky idealism of their philosophy, like they actually believe that if you reach enough people, graffiti enough billboards, hold enough protests, that you can actually change the world. I mean, look at this back cover:
anarchyzu9.jpg

So the owner of the apartment comes over and asks me if I want to read some more "hardcore" anarchist literature, and I politely brush him off because I realized that while I respected their vision, I will always be a pragmatist. I do not believe that an anarchist society is ever possible and I believe that they are wasting their time. They can live "liberated" lives, squatting in some abandoned building, eating out of dumpsters and railing against the system, but the system will never be smashed, and meanwhile I'll be living in relative comfort, so don't I come out ahead? (an aside: This kid was really a pseudo-anarchist in my opinion, because he had a nice apartment in the East Village and lots of expensive cocaine) I feel strange because I feel like artistic types like myself (I'm in college for creative writing) tend to and ought to be idealistic, but is it so bad to be a pragmatist? Not everyone can live crazy, no-rules Hunter Thompson or Jack Kerouac lives, and I feel that on a massive, worldwide scale, such a philosophy is misguided.

This is not a topic about anarchy or anarchist philosphy, but idealism in general. Are you an idealist or a pragmatist? Why? I suspect that most people on this forum will fall into the pragmatic line of thinking like myself, but I think it's an interesting divide in life-philosophies to consider.

y59kydgzuja4.png
flamebroiledchicken on
«1

Posts

  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Idealism and pragmatism aren't mutually exclusive.

    Also anarchism is dumb.

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
    NREqxl5.jpg
    it was the smallest on the list but
    Pluto was a planet and I'll never forget
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Some idealists have ruined many things and other idealists have spurred many things ahead.

    As for me? I'm an idealist in my head and online. What's wrong with arguing the ideal while being practical in action? I think a marriage only to pragmatism is, well, complacent and boring.

    Drez on
    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I mean, if you set pragmatism and idealism up as opposites, then declare yourself a pragmatist, what does that say about your beliefs?

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
    NREqxl5.jpg
    it was the smallest on the list but
    Pluto was a planet and I'll never forget
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I mean, if you set pragmatism and idealism up as opposites, then declare yourself a pragmatist, what does that say about your beliefs?

    Well, ideally...

    Drez on
    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • flamebroiledchickenflamebroiledchicken Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I mean, if you set pragmatism and idealism up as opposites, then declare yourself a pragmatist, what does that say about your beliefs?

    I feel that pragmatism and cynicism get conflated a lot, and I want to make it clear that I'm not a cynic and I am, for the most part, an optimist- I just believe in a practical and realistic approach towards life and various issues; working with or within the system (incidentally, I don't believe there's a monolithic "system" out there whose sole purpose is to make us miserable) to change things instead of romantically (and naively, I think) railing against things without compromise. I just get a bit upset when anarchists and Radiohead (the quote at the beginning of my OP is from their song "Fitter Happier", for those not in the know) call me a soulless jerk for having a pragmatic outlook on life.

    flamebroiledchicken on
    y59kydgzuja4.png
  • KazhiimKazhiim __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

    I'm a pragmatic, but I act with an idealistic goal in mind. A pure idealist will just sit and think.

    and flamebroiledchicken: are you washing spiders down the plughole?

    Kazhiim on
    lost_sig2.png
  • MalaysianShrewMalaysianShrew Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Anarchism isn't dumb. Crimethinc are dumb anarchists, though. The appeal to the rich white kid who doesn't like being treated like he's rich. Most of what they publish has this real fucked up worldview.

    Anarchism, however, has roots in reality. The Soviets(aka worker's councils) and the Spanish trade unions that popped up are both examples of anarchism in the real world, workers taking control of their places of employment, voting for their leadership/managers and organizing with other unions to acquire resources to keep themselves running.

    You might point out that the soviets and the workers councils were short lived, but they collapsed from outside pressure, not for any deficiency in their structure. The soviets were stripped of their power, often by lethal force, by the Bolsheviks who controlled the country, and the spanish worker's councils were put down first by the Facist Francisco Franco, and also by the Soviet forces who came to "aid" the anarchists and socialists against the Facists.

    MalaysianShrew on
    Never trust a big butt and a smile.
  • MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    I mean, if you set pragmatism and idealism up as opposites, then declare yourself a pragmatist, what does that say about your beliefs?

    This.

    MrMister on
  • Just Like ThatJust Like That Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Set idealistic goals, and try to achieve them through pragmatic methods. That way, even if you don't achieve your ideal situation, you'll be as close as you can get (assuming your methods were sound). Seems pretty simple to me.

    You have to have at least some degree of pragmatism, because we live in the real world (so to speak). Isn't a pure idealist just a hippie? I don't know. But I do know that hippies suck.

    Just Like That on
  • JinniganJinnigan Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    The problem with idealism is when one is overly certain, which leaves no room for questioning yourself.

    Y'all should watch the documentary Protagonist, which looks at the growth and development of several people - a martial artist, an ex-gay preacher, a bank robber, and Hans Klein, a left-wing german terrorist active around the 60s and 70s.

    Jinnigan on
    whatifihadnofriendsshortenedsiggy2.jpg
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    Dyscord wrote: »
    Also anarchism is dumb.

    Yeah but probably not for the reason you think.

    irt "reaching people with messages is stupid";
    How exactly do you propose we go about trying to catalyze change if not by reaching and swaying people?

    ViolentChemistry on
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I've flipped through that book, and it's retarded. I opened it to a random page and it was about stealing organic tampons.

    Delzhand on
  • ProlegomenaProlegomena Frictionless Spinning The VoidRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    you have no idea how copious the quantities of pesticides and other chemicals used on a normal day down on the tampon fields are

    Prolegomena on
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    you have no idea how copious the quantities of pesticides and other chemicals used on a normal day down on the tampon fields are

    I'm just saying, if it's that important to you that you gotta steal, why not grow your own tampons?

    Delzhand on
  • ProlegomenaProlegomena Frictionless Spinning The VoidRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    they require very specific soil conditions that are particularly difficult to recreate in the typical home allotment or greenhouse

    Prolegomena on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Guys, tampons don't grow on trees, you know.

    Drez on
    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • ProlegomenaProlegomena Frictionless Spinning The VoidRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    how sure are you?

    Prolegomena on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    More importantly, what do tampons have to do with idealism vs pragmatism?

    ViolentChemistry on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    More importantly, what do tampons have to do with idealism vs pragmatism?

    In an ideal world, tampons wouldn't have to exist. But let's face facts...women bleed.

    Actually, I'd be interested in hearing why an Anarchist's cookbook is telling people to steal organic tampons. I don't really care, but I'm mildly interested in what that's all about there.

    Drez on
    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Because the book is full of childish shit - you know, the myriad ways you can "stick it to the man". The book is neither idealistic nor pragmatic. It's just a product of aborted thinking and petulant egocentrism.

    Delzhand on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    If one were to read the original post, one would know that the book isn't really the topic of discussion.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • ProlegomenaProlegomena Frictionless Spinning The VoidRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Ok, ideally, subtly hinting towards the original topic of the thread would get everyone focused on it, pragmatically it might be better if you made a substantive point so people could discuss it with you rather than repeatedly pointing out that people are drifting away from the topic.

    Are we cooking now?

    Prolegomena on
  • DrezDrez Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    If one were to read the original post, one would know that the book isn't really the topic of discussion.

    Is whether or not the book is the topic of discussion the topic of discussion? Because about 50% of your posts are now about how we shouldn't talk about the book which is as much off topic as us actually talking about the book.

    Drez on
    Switch: SW-7690-2320-9238Steam/PSN/Xbox: Drezdar
  • MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    One can be passionate about good causes and still pursue them in effective ways. Hence, I find the pragmatist / idealist distinction misleading.

    MrMister on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    Ok, ideally, subtly hinting towards the original topic of the thread would get everyone focused on it, pragmatically it might be better if you made a substantive point so people could discuss it with you rather than repeatedly pointing out that people are drifting away from the topic.

    Are we cooking now?
    irt "reaching people with messages is stupid";
    How exactly do you propose we go about trying to catalyze change if not by reaching and swaying people?

    ViolentChemistry on
  • [Tycho?][Tycho?] As elusive as doubt Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I'm pragmatic, and not really idealistic at all. Although I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.

    Incidentally, I live in a house full of anarchists. I am not one myself however.

    [Tycho?] on
    mvaYcgc.jpg
  • ProlegomenaProlegomena Frictionless Spinning The VoidRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I hope noone said reaching people with messages is stupid because really

    Prolegomena on
  • ViolentChemistryViolentChemistry __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    I hope noone said reaching people with messages is stupid because really

    Not so much said it was stupid as openly mocked the idea.

    ViolentChemistry on
  • heretic23heretic23 Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I think I fall more into the pragmatist camp. However, I think it's also worth pointing out that I'm also a very cynical person. I believe in taking practical steps to solve certain problems because I don't trust people to not be stupid. For example, I don't trust the federal or provincial governments to ensure all children are recieving the same quality of education across the board. I don't trust them to not get bogged down in stupid crap that stands in the way of ensuring this very worthwhile goal is achieved.

    I like think I also reach for practical goals. I mean world peace sounds nice and all but I don't think it's going to happen. I like well defined problems and well thought out plans (not the stupid crap that book is spouting--actual plans) to solve those problems. For another example, I understand racism is a problem; I get it and I agree that it sucks. But so often I see groups whose goal in their mission statement is to "end racism", or "end racist hiring policies" or "promote a multicultural school environment". Worthwhile goals, but poorly defined problems with only the barest sketches for plans of action. I'm not saying this is true of all groups dedicated to ending racism (or sexism, or poverty, or violence, etc.) but it seems to be true of a large and well-funded majority of these groups.

    I'm also a proponent of the "Act Local, Think Global" philosophy though with globalism being the way it is I have begun to reconsider this position.

    heretic23 on
    --
    heretic23
    "Living weird is the best revenge."
  • INeedNoSaltINeedNoSalt with blood on my teeth Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    They can live "liberated" lives, squatting in some abandoned building, eating out of dumpsters and railing against the system, but the system will never be smashed, and meanwhile I'll be living in relative comfort, so don't I come out ahead?

    This is kind of depressing line of thought. If you assume that things cannot be changed and therefore do not work to change them, then no, they will never change.

    INeedNoSalt on
  • RiemannLivesRiemannLives Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Because the book is full of childish shit - you know, the myriad ways you can "stick it to the man". The book is neither idealistic nor pragmatic. It's just a product of aborted thinking and petulant egocentrism.

    If this is the same Anarchists Cookbook that used to get passed around on BBSes then it actually is quite pragmatic: it ensures that any "anarchists" who start taking this shit too seriously end up dead or at least maimed.

    Its full of helpful recipes for things like homemade napalm (basically styrofoam + gasoline) or nitroglycerin but lacking any info about the necessary safety precautions for these very delicate processes. It is in theory quite simple to make nitro out of easily obtainable legal products. In practice if you make the slightest fuckup it will blow up in your face.

    RiemannLives on
    Attacked by tweeeeeeees!
  • flamebroiledchickenflamebroiledchicken Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Because the book is full of childish shit - you know, the myriad ways you can "stick it to the man". The book is neither idealistic nor pragmatic. It's just a product of aborted thinking and petulant egocentrism.

    If this is the same Anarchists Cookbook that used to get passed around on BBSes then it actually is quite pragmatic: it ensures that any "anarchists" who start taking this shit too seriously end up dead or at least maimed.

    Its full of helpful recipes for things like homemade napalm (basically styrofoam + gasoline) or nitroglycerin but lacking any info about the necessary safety precautions for these very delicate processes. It is in theory quite simple to make nitro out of easily obtainable legal products. In practice if you make the slightest fuckup it will blow up in your face.

    It's not the same thing. They both have the name "Anarchist Cookbook" but this new one doesn't have any bomb recipes, just stupid shit like how to sabotage billboards and how to shoplift.

    flamebroiledchicken on
    y59kydgzuja4.png
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I'm pragmatic and idealistic because I read Nonzero.

    Loren Michael on
    a7iea7nzewtq.jpg
  • GlalGlal AiredaleRegistered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Because the book is full of childish shit - you know, the myriad ways you can "stick it to the man". The book is neither idealistic nor pragmatic. It's just a product of aborted thinking and petulant egocentrism.
    If this is the same Anarchists Cookbook that used to get passed around on BBSes then it actually is quite pragmatic: it ensures that any "anarchists" who start taking this shit too seriously end up dead or at least maimed.

    Its full of helpful recipes for things like homemade napalm (basically styrofoam + gasoline) or nitroglycerin but lacking any info about the necessary safety precautions for these very delicate processes. It is in theory quite simple to make nitro out of easily obtainable legal products. In practice the conditions have to be far too perfect to actually be achieved by your average kid.
    We followed many of those recipes in our chemistry class (best. Teacher. Ever), the nitro one never worked.

    Glal on
  • duallainduallain Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    Neither Idealism nor Pragmatism have been defined. It's hard to believe that they aren't mutually exclusive when on face their definitions (as I understand them) are pretty contrary to each other.

    Idealism: impracticality by virtue of thinking of things in their ideal form rather than as they really are (2nd definition here: http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=idealism)

    Pragmatism: the attribute of accepting the facts of life and favoring practicality and literal truth
    (http://wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=pragmatism&sub=Search+WordNet&o2=&o0=1&o7=&o5=&o1=1&o6=&o4=&o3=&h=000)

    First, are these definitions correct? And how do they mesh together if that's the case? (the definition of idealism seems a bit, biased.)

    I have a very negative view of idealism (it seems delusional to me, believing the world to be shaped in your ideals rather than the way it is) but you all seem to disagree with that, why?

    duallain on
  • KazhiimKazhiim __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    occasionally, the literal truth of something happens to also be its ideal form (wut)

    Kazhiim on
    lost_sig2.png
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    I guess I could clarify. I think a realistic assessment of reality is that things are, and have been, approaching their "ideal form", as it were.

    Loren Michael on
    a7iea7nzewtq.jpg
  • MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    duallain wrote: »
    I have a very negative view of idealism (it seems delusional to me, believing the world to be shaped in your ideals rather than the way it is) but you all seem to disagree with that, why?

    Pragmatism is too often an excuse for self-centeredness and laziness.

    MrMister on
  • KazhiimKazhiim __BANNED USERS regular
    edited May 2008
    Idealism is used an excuse for the exact same things

    Kazhiim on
    lost_sig2.png
  • duallainduallain Registered User regular
    edited May 2008
    What happens when the ideal and literal truth don't match? When there is distance between the two is that not the origin of cognitive dissonance?

    So is idealism not a perception of the world? What is it then? A perception of form or direction?

    I feel like my conception of idealism differs significantly from everyone else's, as it's described I wouldn't mind being labeled an idealist but it doesn't seem to have any descriptive strength (in the sense that there is no scale, like liberal/conservative or anarchist/fascist or whatever other set of opposites often find people on one end or the other)

    duallain on
Sign In or Register to comment.